How many of us have a slow-cooker that we’ve only ever used once or twice, but we hold on to ‘just in case’? How many of us make a journey in the car with four empty passenger seats? How many of us own a tent that we use no more than a couple of days over the summer? And on the flip side, how many of us have loft space in our homes that is only ever half-full?
Most of us are guilty of wastage in one form or another but – according to the French writer Hervé Kempf – the answer is simple:
“Consume less; share better.”
Kempf’s mandate is borne out of good, old-fashioned common sense. It seems obvious that the solution to all this wastage is sharing, but what Hervé doesn’t impart through his little nugget of wisdom, is how one can share better. We take a look at the options…
Friends and relatives?
The fact of the matter is, if you solely rely on friends and family for sharing, the number of people from whom you can borrow will be pretty small. The chances are Uncle Mike will need his power drill for some DIY on the weekend you were hoping to borrow it. And when you’re in the process of moving house and need to store your stuff, Kate’s garage is full of equipment for that sports day she’s organising.
There’s also ‘the informality factor’ with friends and family, which can sometimes lead to awkwardness. The tupperware collection that goes astray, the sander they claim was theirs all along. It’s not that you can’t trust them, it’s just that with people you know well you’d never think to make a note of where things end up.
Local communities, it seems, are becoming less well-integrated, with fewer people knowing their neighbours well enough to chat to – let alone borrow a lawn mower from. In 2009 Circle Anglia conducted a survey that revealed people aged 65 or over were pretty likely to know their neighbours, with 82% of those questioned saying they chat with neighbours regularly. However, the issue becomes apparent when it comes to the under-25s, a mere 44% of whom said they’d talk with their neighbours.
Though it may not seem the most appealing option it is rapidly becoming the most sensible. This is down to new online services and communities and the rise of a phenomenon called ‘Collaborative Consumption’. Put simply the idea is for people to connect with strangers for mutual sharing benefit. As such the small sharing base one has with friends and family – and even neighbours – becomes infinitely larger and more regulated.
Unlocking the potential of sharing
It isn’t just drills and lawn mowers that are on offer through this new phenomenon, as you’ll see from the examples below:
- rentmyitems.com: This is as simple as it sounds. Rent everything from step ladders to wedding bunting, or offer something you own for others to rent.
- sooqini.com: People share skills and expertise on this clever marketplace, where you can find everything from a PA, to someone who’ll assemble Ikea furniture for you.
- deskwanted.com: Indexes more than 1,500 coworking spaces and shared offices worldwide and is great for small, flexible businesses and people on the move.
- knok.com: A home-swap hub designed to make holidays cheaper through sharing.
- roomcentral.co.uk: The smart way to find a flat or house-mate, sharing your spare space to make some extra cash.
- skilio.com: Skilio lets you teach and learn via Live Webcam. Share skills and knowledge in their smart online classrooms.
- gocarshare.com: Allows you to enter a journey you’re planning and ride along with someone who’s going the same way. A clever way to spread the cost of ever-more expensive petrol.
- sharemystorage: With self-storage space at a premium, it makes much more sense to share. This smart storage solution is cheaper, greener and local to you.
The benefits of sharing with strangers…
- Economical – Lenders save money on everything from petrol to the price they originally paid for an item. Meanwhile borrowers save money since they don’t have to fork out for brand new items.
- Secure – Records are kept of any lending, borrowing and sharing that takes place.
- Green – We all consume less and put Kempf’s excellent instruction into practice!